Tall Trees, Short Stories by Gabriel Hemery

4 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the author in return for an honest review.

Mankind has been far more reliant on trees that we would care to admit now days. They have been a source of food, shelter, warmth, tools and many other things besides. That relationship is under threat as we clear vast swathes of virgin rainforest, grub up ancient woodlands to build a train line that no one needs or cut the trees down in streets just because some official decides they can.

Hemery isn’t writing about any of those real-life events, though they do worry and concern him deeply, however, what he wants to do in this book is pushing the very limits of your imagination way beyond the boundaries of the copse. He has written twenty-five stories that will challenge everything you thought was possible about nature writing.

He has stories about a whole forest being taken overnight leaving only the leaf mould and some very confused police. He takes us into the mind of a bonsai that is half a millennium old that has seen things it can never tell anyone. There is a very short story of a politician passing legislation to make the UK a country without trees and the last moments that a son spends with his father. There is a story about a secret mission to collect seedlings. Scatter amongst these stories are flash fiction and poems.

Can we love a forest, yet fell a tree?
The forester sees beyond herself
Harvesting one, breathes life into more
More trees, more life, a future for you and me

I have read a fair number of books on trees and all things arboreal and one of my favourite places to walk is a woodland at pretty much any time of the year. I have read one other book by Hemery, Green Gold which was an enjoyable and fascinating book about the Victorian Plant Hunter John Jeffrey, hence why I was looking forward to this. Of all of the things that I was expecting though, a heady blend of dystopian science fiction combined with nature writing wasn’t one of them. I really enjoyed it, there are some excellent stories in here full of imagination with his ideas, but most importantly there is a warning in here about our neglect and complacency with regards to the natural world. As always with a collection, there was the odd one or two that I couldn’t completely gel with. There is something in here for everyone, he has mixed up stories with poetry and songs for a bit of variety.

Three Favourite Stories:
Memoirs of a Bonsai
DED Zone
The Man Who Harvested Trees

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  1. Liz Dexter

    That sounds like an interesting and surprising collection!

    • Paul

      It was very different. There is one story in there that I didn’t mention, that was very much unexpected!

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